Summer Wedding Dressing Simplified

By Chanyn Kirtman
June 13, 2014

Wedding season has officially begun, and while the invitations are coming in, it is likely you’re having internal dialogue, pondering on what to wear to each event. Decoding the formality lingo can be mind-boggling. What does semi-formal even mean? Does black tie mean a ball gown and gloves? How do I look chic and still beat the humidity at a formal beach soiree? Whether you are planning for your niece’s garden ceremony or a college roommate’s chic reception in the city, you want to find a look that is both stylish and suitable for the occasion. This is not always a simple task, but here are a few tips that will help you play the “style-safe card” this wedding season, and may take a few question marks out of that conversation bubble above you.


Beach Weddings

Beach weddings get their own little subcategory, as they have a wide range of formality depending on the venue, location and whether or not you are physically on the beach. However, there are a few golden rules that will keep your style fitting for both a casual and formal beach party. Just because it says “beach” does not mean cover-ups, flip-flops, or dare I even mention shorts? To pull of a perfect look for a seaside ceremony, opt for breathable fabrics and those that can withstand wind and sand, such as a chiffon, linen or cotton jersey. Colors in lush greens, blues and deep coral hues are perfect compliments to the natural surroundings. Aim for a length that hits around the knee, a maxi, or flowing dresses with ethereal draping, such as this turquoise linen dress from Shopbop (¥31,655) or this high-low bandeau dress from H&M (¥5,490). For footwear, an espadrille wedge or cute gladiator sandal will enable you to best maneuver in the sand or grass.

Additional accessories: Make sure to pack your sunglasses for a daytime ceremony and a carry a soft pashmina to take the edge off coastal winds. For added glam, stack up on the bangles and polish it off with a colorful statement necklace.

Semi Formal

This is a tricky dress code to decipher, and in the summer it is even more open to interpretation. When the wedding takes place during the day, aim for lighter hues and softer fabrics, and lean toward a more formal look for evening events. Here are a few examples of when a “semi-formal” requirement might make an appearance.


City Chic: Whether the party is inside an art gallery or a hotel ballroom, this is your time to take your style to the fashion limit. Find inspiration from the urban atmosphere with cutting edge styles, interesting silhouettes and cocktail dresses in metallics or rich hues like, this BCBG satin dress in deep navy (around ¥53,000) or this vibrant, one shoulder River Island dress (¥6,200). Strappy sandals or stiletto pumps will complement the look.

Additional accessories: A large cocktail ring and modern clutch will look flattering with this evening attire.


Garden party: The floral trend has beyond blossomed this year, but try your hardest to not blend in with the ceremony backdrop. Go for a contemporary take on the trend with mixed patterns, or choose a bright or pastel solid hue. The Ted Baker store in Omotesando has some great options, such as this mixed pattern cocktail dress (¥24,000) and this graphic print, pastel maxi dress (31,000JPY). For shoes, choose a wedge or stacked heel to avoid irrigating the garden lawn with poky heels and getting your favorite stilettos grass stained.

Additional accessories: Keep accessories soft and elegant like the setting. Simple jewelry such as pearls or delicate necklaces will look stylish and graceful. A charming clutch or small handbag will coincide with the rest of the look.

black tie

Black Tie

The most formal of all dress codes, Black Tie is the time to bring on the drama. The hosts chose a formal ceremony for a reason, so dive in headfirst with the glam. A floor length gown such as this Alice and Olivia metallic dress (¥38,156) is an option for a party that requires an evening gown. A midi length formal dress such as this draped crepe dress by Vivienne Westwood (around ¥50,000) will also suit the fancy festivities. The sky is the limit for footwear.

Additional Accessories: Be sure to bring out the bling. All that glitters is gold. Polish off the look with dramatic makeup and coiffed hair.

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